Our journey continued on from Colorado, except this time instead of going farther west, we pointed the rig south. Our next destination, after a brief overnight in Oklahoma (by the way, a very scenic state, who knew?), was Texas Hill country. We parked the rig in Cedar Park, Texas for a couple weeks, and set out to explore the area.
Hill country is more or less anchored by Austin, the capital of Texas, and the fastest growing large city in the United States. I neglected to do my homework, and assumed Austin was a mid-sized city similar to Ann Arbor or Lansing. It’s not. It is not only heavily populated within the city limits, with around a million citizens, but the outlying “small” towns amount to another million. Large cities and metropolitan areas are not our favorite place to reside, but we made the best of managing the traffic, found several good hiking areas, and took a trip to the city one day.
Downtown Austin, at least the area we were in, was a hotbed of activity. Countless bars and restaurants, and like every large city, many homeless people. It was Saturday, and the Texas Longhorns were playing. It may as well been the only college game in the nation that particular day. Every TV was tuned into the game, even if there were multiple TV’s in the room. Burnt orange jerseys dotted the landscape. The mood was jolly and raucous although it was early in the day.
We spent a few hours downtown. I had really looked forward to Austin. But I gotta tell you, I was a bit disappointed. I am guessing the real beauty of this city lies within the nightlife, and I am not a nightlife sort of person (anymore that is, I had my day!) Perhaps it was due to the football game, but I expected more music and less people. Although no more than 18 miles from Cedar Park, it took a good hour to get there. Traffic is pretty rough in the area. It was our only journey into Austin. We chose to spend the remainder of our time in the suburbs.
On the other hand, Lake Travis and the surrounding area were quite spectacular. Like many lakes in the west, Lake Travis is actually a reservoir on the Colorado River. It is a large lake spanning over 60 miles, and is used for flood control, water supply, recreation, and electrical power.
The area is called Hill Country for a reason. It’s not what one envisions when thinking of Texas, I think most of us midwestern types think of it as very flat land, and, yes indeed, much of Texas is flat as a pancake. We took several drives through the pretty rolling hills. I even saw a bit of fall color here and there. It would be a great place to ride a motorcycle if you are so inclined.
We found several good hiking areas around the area, and I got to see my very first tarantula in the wild. It wasn’t the least bit scary to me. I rather like the way it looked, all fuzzy and moving slowly. I am not a spider fan, but this guy was in no way creepy.
Should you travel to Hill Country, be sure and check out the Oasis on Lake Travis. Our son spent a summer in Austin training for work, and recommended we check it out. Go around sunset for optimal views. We were there during the afternoon, enjoying a cold brew, and from the view, it seemed we were in Italy somewhere under the Tuscan sun. Yeah, it’s that scenic.
The city of Cedar Park was a typical ‘burb city with all the malls, stores, chain restaurants, that tend to reside in those type of areas. We found some great city parks with nice paved trails perfect for urban hikes.
Nearby Georgetown TX is very charming with a sweet town square, and the largest police presence I have seen in any town. In fact, the whole area of metro Austin had a very large police presence.
At first, I was feeling well-protected. Then, I wondered why they need so many cops and maybe it wasn’t as safe as it appears, or maybe this is just the way they do things in Texas. It’s not, the rest of Texas, at least the other parts I have been in, have about the same amount of police patrols as we do at home in Michigan.
I certainly enjoyed my time in Texas Hill Country. It probably isn’t fair to compare it to Colorado Springs from which we had just departed. Colorado has a beauty all of it’s own. However, I just can’t help comparing one place to another.
I will say, my life is much richer from having been to this area of the Lone Star State. This is the way I feel anywhere we travel. Which is why we do it. To enrich our lives with many as new places and experiences as possible. To us, that is what life is about.
After about 6 weeks spent on the road, living in a half-packed up house (I don’t put everything away in it’s “just so” spot until we land somewhere for a few months), and putting a whole lot of miles on the Silverado, I think we were both becoming a bit road weary, and were once again yearning to be settled and find a sense of community once again to enjoy the winter months.
Next stop, Portland Texas. Our home for the season. See you there!